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About Aurelius

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  1. I, for one, would appreciate it very much if we didn't shut this game down. I've got two active stories here that I am still posting in, while Long and Ms Muse have another (and that they've been posting in with commendable regularity), and I have plans for several more (although given my posting speed it's unlikely that most of them will see the light of day anytime this year). ,, I realize the forum has been slow - for my part real life keeps doing this annoying thing where it makes me pay attention to it all the time and makes it difficult for me to find the time or the energy to sit in front of a computer for hours on end and write make-believe stories (much as I'd prefer to be doing just that) - but the forum is by no means "inactive", or even very close to it. I second what Dawn said: leave it be and let folks wander in and out as they have the time and the desire.
  2. ,, THE PRESENT Date & Time: November 23rd, 2013, 11:41pm Location: Kaolak meteorite impact crater, approximately 3.75 miles east of Kaolak River, Alaska Coordinates (GPS): N 69 55.146, W 159 55.888 ,, Jimmy Smalls, Major in the United States Air Force, pulled up his collar and hunched his way further into his artic-rated coat as he leaned into the wind kicked up by the helicopter currently coming to rest fifteen or twenty meters away. The helicopter landed, and a moment later disgorged one of its occupants, who made his way to Smalls in the typical crouching-jog that people tend to use around helicopters. By the time the man had reached Smalls and was straightening out of his crouch the helicopter was already several meters in the air again and still rising. ,, Major Smalls saluted at the man’s approach and, once he was within earshot, half-shouted in formal greeting, “General!” ,, Brigadier General Tom Ballard returned a hurried and cursory salute without once breaking his stride, forcing Smalls to fall into step beside him or be left quickly behind. “Where is it?” the general asked, his brow furrowed and his eyes asquint as he peered into the arctic night around them, searching for the reason he’d flown all the way out here. ,, “Over this way”, answered the major, pointing off to their right, beyond the hastily assembled land-moving equipment and even more hastily assembled command tent. ,, They were more than a hundred miles from the nearest settlement large enough to be called a town – and much further away from the nearest actual city – in the middle of one of the remotest and most poorly mapped regions of Alaska’s North Slope region. Even during Alaska’s summer months travelling there would have been difficult, but in the middle of the Alaskan winter getting all of the equipment and personnel out there that they had, and getting them there as quickly as they had, was the kind of feat that only the United States Air Force could have pulled off. It was the middle of the night, but because they were so far north even if it had been daytime it would still have been dark, and there were high-intensity lights set up on poles at regular intervals throughout the makeshift camp, with a larger concentration of light set up around what the general assumed to be the actual point of impact. The temperature was well below freezing; there was hardly any snow at all, however, which Ballard thought strange until he remembered that he was standing in the middle of a recently formed impact crater. ,, General Ballard could see that the tractors and other earth-moving equipment had been busy, hauling away piled up debris from the central cone of the impact crater, forcing them to climb over and weave their way between a few different piles of recently moved rubble. He’d seen the crater’s central cone clearly from the air as he’d ridden in on the helicopter, but from down here on the ground it looked more like a small hill or large mound. Ballard had always found it strange that impact craters like this one often had these raised cones smack in the middle of them. He knew there was a scientific explanation for it, but couldn’t pretend to know what it might be. ,, As they walked the general spared a glance in Major Smalls’ direction. “Give me your report, major. What’ve you got so far?” ,, “Yes sir”, answered Smalls. Taking a breath, he dove into his report, “the object would no doubt have warranted an investigation of some kind in any case, but several anomalous events before and during its descent and impact attracted our notice and sparked the ongoing operation you see going on around you.” ,, “Anomalous events?” asked the General. “Such as?” ,, “The way the object changed course after it collided with the Radiosat 3 satellite, for one. At its mass and velocity, a collision with a satellite shouldn’t have had any notable impact on its course or bearing, yet it did. Additionally, there was the relatively small release of energy in the form of light or heat during the objects descent – significantly less than there should have been. Most of what was released was generated by the actual impact itself. Also, sir, the object slowed down significantly during its descent – down to around Mach 53 at the time of impact – much more so than can be accounted for by atmospheric drag. Especially considering the object’s actual size.” ,, Ballard cast a questioning glance in Smalls’ direction and asked, “Size? How big is it?” ,, “Much smaller than it should be, sir”, Smalls said. “You’ll have to see for yourself to really understand.” ,, They were nearing the actual point of impact as Smalls said this, so the general let the major's non-answer slide and allowed himself to be led to ‘the object’. ,, They crested the lip of the central cone and Ballard immediately found himself being led down into another, much smaller crater that lay inside of it. In the lowest portion of this inner crater’s basin was a crowd of personnel and equipment; as he and Smalls approached, some of the men turned and, seeing Ballard, stiffened in salute. The rest of those gathered quickly noticed this and turned to offer salutes of their own, standing to one side to allow the general access to whatever lay at the center. As the crowd of soldiers and workers cleared away Ballard finally caught site of Lieutenant Colonel Darnell Flowers, his officer in charge out here at the crater site, squatting over something practically at the dead center of it all. ,, The colonel turned and, seeing Ballard, stood to offer him a salute as well. The general returned it and said, “The major tells me there’s something here I need to ‘see for myself to really understand.’” ,, “He’s right, general”, Flowers told him. The officer stood to one side and gestured for the general to look into a recently-excavated pit that opened just behind him. ,, Ballard took a step forward and peered down into the pit. Lights were pouring into it from high-powered lamps, so the darkness wasn’t a problem, but the general was still having trouble working out what he was seeing. After a moment he turned back to Flowers with a curious look on his face. ,, “Is that a… a statue?”, he asked.
  3. There’s really not much to tell about my flight from Neptune to Uranus, other than it takes one million, four hundred thirty, two hundred and eighty-seven seconds before I have to start worrying about inserting myself into the seventh planet’s orbit. Which turns out to be waaay more difficult than I’d anticipated. I manage not to crash into anything or, you know, die – but it’s a close thing. ,, See, one of the unusual things about Uranus is that it basically sits on its side, relative to every other planet in the system. This means that its orbital plane is pretty nearly 90° off from the plane of the ecliptic, which is what I’m flying in on during my approach to the planet. As a result, orbital insertion winds up being anything but a smooth or gentle process (like it was with Neptune), and there’s a hairy few hundred seconds there where I’m not sure I’m going to pull it off. ,, Of course I manage it in the end, otherwise I wouldn’t be here to tell this story, would I? Once my not-nerves have calmed down a bit (it’s obvious I don’t have anything that could rightly be called a nervous system anymore, but something makes me feel all jangly for a little while), I start to take a look around. Uranus has more moons than Neptune does, and though none of them are as large as Triton, four of them are more than one thousand kilometers in diameter. Also, while Neptune has rings, they’re super-thin and weren’t that much fun to look at; Uranus, on the other hand, has a much more substantial set of rings (I can only imagine what Saturn’s must be like, after seeing these). So there’s lots to see here. ,, I won’t mince words, though; Uranus and its moons are nice enough, but in the end I have to say it’s all sort of boring in comparison to Neptune or Tyche (and considering I almost died just getting myself into orbit around it, I’m a little annoyed about this). Uranus is noticeably less dense than Neptune and, perhaps as a result, there’s just less going on inside of it. Don’t get me wrong, what is happening down in its guts is still pretty fascinating and if I didn’t have Tyche or Neptune to compare it to I’d probably be completely amazed by what I’m sensing down there. As it is, though, it all feels a little pedestrian. ,, In most respects the gas giant is a near-twin of Neptune, only calmer, sleepier and, as a result, less interesting. There’s a lot of the same complex chemical processes going on down in its guts – most of which I can’t really follow or understand – but there isn’t the… well, I guess you’d call it “weather” that’s present on Neptune. Everything’s placid, and kind of dead, in a way that wasn’t true of Neptune. I don’t like it, I decide. ,, Still, I have to admit that this planet would probably make a much better spot for colonization than Neptune would, if and when humanity ever gets around to colonizing this system. Aside from having a tricky orbital insertion problem, Uranus would be much kinder to any colonists who wanted to use it for gas mining or the like than Neptune would. Not that I’ve been there yet, but I can only assume that Jupiter and Saturn would be even worse. Uranus, though, has relatively low wind speeds (though the fastest of them are moving at several hundred kph!), almost no weather to speak of, and “surface” gravity is only about 88% of earth’s. Also, the rings really are pretty cool looking. ,, Uranus’s moons would also make excellent spots for colonies and there’s a whole bunch of them. I spend a little bit of time checking out the four largest of them: Oberon, Titania, Umbriel, and Ariel. As in Triton, Oberon and Titania both have subterranean oceans under their surfaces. I wish, looking back, that I’d realized I possess the ability to scan them for life signs (something I never figure out until after I’m back on earth); scientists are always talking about how there might be life in moons like these – although they’re usually talking about Europa when they do – and maybe I could’ve found the first signs of extraterrestrial life if only I’d known what to look for. It makes me want to head back out there some time and take another look. ,, In the end, I spend around eighty-six thousand more seconds in orbit over Uranus than I did over Neptune, even if only because I’m determined to make the trip worth it, if for no other reason. But finally I decide it’s time to head out again. My plan – back when I’d first set out from Neptune’s skies – was to hit Uranus and then Jupiter, and maybe even Mars and Venus, before finally returning to earth. I realize now that’s just stupid. Both Jupiter and Mars are farther away from me at this point in their orbits than the Earth is, and Saturn is practically on the opposite side of the sun from where I’m standing on Oberon’s frozen surface. Even if I skipped Jupiter and Saturn and just hit Mars, I’d still be adding at least another week to my travel time before reaching earth. ,, Maybe it’s my disappointment that Uranus wasn’t as awesome as Neptune was, but suddenly my “urge to go exploring” is gone and all I want is to get home. I can hardly believe after all this time that I’m so close to the planet of my birth – even though “this close” is more than nineteen astronomical units away in this case. So this time, when I lift away from the surface of the moon I’m standing on, the little blue dot I point myself at as I accelerate to escape velocity is planet Earth.
  4. I’m not going to lie: leaving Tyche behind me felt really good. That place had begun to feel like a prison I’d been consigned to as a punishment for making such a mess of things during my eruption as a nova. Flying out of its gravity well felt like emancipation. ,, Reaching Neptune – technically just another gas giant not all that much different from Tyche – feels incredible, on the other hand. For one thing, it marks the point where I officially return to my own solar system, and after being gone so long that alone is a pretty amazing feeling. For another, I got to Neptune on my own power, using my own skill and ingenuity, so instead of feeling like a punishment it feels like a true accomplishment. Plus, it’s Neptune. And it is gorgeous. ,, I spend probably longer than I should just floating over Neptune’s methane-blue cloud layers, staring down into its opaque depths and examining it inside and out using senses I wasn’t born with. I completely lack the science to explain what I learn, but I’ll take a stab at it anyway. The upper atmosphere is about what you’d expect: hydrogen and helium, mostly, with condensed methane clouds floating here and there, along with some ammonia much lower down. Below that, though, the hydrogen and helium give way to increasing concentrations of methane, ammonia, and finally water. I recall having read that Neptune is supposed to have a lot of water in it (it’s one of the main reasons Neptune and Uranus are sometimes called “ice giants”), but I’m still kind of surprised to find so much of it. ,, A part of me is tempted to try flying down into that atmosphere. This is something I would never have even thought of trying with Tyche, but a lot of time has passed since then and I’m both faster and stronger, but even more importantly, I'm more confident now than I was then. Still, I stay where I am, mostly because of the Neptunian winds. I’m sure you’ve read about them before, and the accounts do not lie. The slower cloud bands down there are moving at several hundred kilometers an hour; the fastest are moving at over two thousand. Yeah. No thanks. ,, There isn’t really any spot where the cloud layer stops; it just reaches a critical point at somewhere around two or three thousand kilometers beneath the topmost cloud layers, and at that point there ceases to be a difference between the clouds above and the liquid below. At the boundary zone, such as it is, the pressure is tens of thousands of times as dense as earth’s (although I don’t realize that at the time, but only after I get back to earth and can get a basis for comparison). It’s incredibly hot that far down too, and it only gets hotter from there. ,, Below the critical point, things get weird. The water, ammonia and methane all start doing weird things that I can’t really explain or describe properly. I’d like to get a better handle on materials science at some point and then head back out there – to Neptune and Uranus both (and to Jupiter and Saturn, for that matter) – and take another set of readings, because I really wish I could explain, at least to myself even if not to anyone else, what Neptune tells me about itself as I float just over forty-five thousand kilometers over its surface. I could swear I feel something like diamond rain going on down there, and about eight or nine thousand kilometers deep the water feels like it’s solid and still fluid at the same time - like it's two things at once and something else again. I don't know; like I said, I can't really describe it. ,, Further down than that and things get even weirder. I'm not even going to take a stab at explaining it. The core is composed of heavier, “rocky” elements like iron and nickel and stuff, and even though it only constitutes less than 6% of the planet’s total mass it’s still something like 20% more massive than earth. I have to remind myself that this is one of the smaller gas giants in the solar system. ,, I spend much less time on Triton, Neptune’s largest moon, and no time at all at any of the other moons (which are mostly just big asteroids caught in more or less stable orbits around the gas giant). Next to the majesty of Neptune itself and my mounting desire to continue my trip in-system and reach the planet of my birth, Triton’s frozen surface just isn’t that interesting to me. I float over it long enough to confirm the presence of liquid subterranean oceans beneath its surface, but that’s all. ,, Still, the stopover at Neptune has reignited my passion for astronomy and my fascination with the planets that share a solar system with our planet, and now I’m feeling the urge to go exploring. A quick check tells me that Uranus, the next planet in, is only 18.12 astronomical units away from where I am now, though it’s also a bit out of the way (from where I’m standing on Triton’s surface, Earth is pretty much directly underneath the constellation of Leo, whereas Uranus is hovering off to my right, over Orion). I do some calculations and figure that a stopover there would add about 8.6 astronomical units to the trip distance between Neptune and the Earth, which is equivalent to about eight extra days of travel time at my current rate of speed. That’s not nothing, but bear in mind that I’ve just completed a journey of nearly six hundred and sixty-seven days just to get this far; eight more days seems like a small price to pay to see yet another planet that’s never be seen before by human eyes (and ignoring, for the moment, the fact that I’m not strictly speaking human anymore). ,, My decision made, I lift away from Triton’s surface and accelerate to escape velocity, setting course for the distant, pale blue dot that is Uranus.
  5. I realize very early on in my twenty-two month journey that my path to earth puts me on an almost straight line to Neptune and, after not very much deliberation, I decide to make a detour there. The necessary course adjustments for this are small: at its current location along its orbit, Neptune is a little less than 1.5 million kilometers shy of thirty astronomical units away from the sun, but that’s almost nothing when measured against the nearly fifteen thousand astronomical units I will have traveled by the time I get there. I have to put on the brakes just slightly earlier than I would have otherwise, but it’s really not a big deal. ,, Time, as you might imagine, passes slowly (even with the time dilation). I listen regularly to intercepted transmissions from earth, of course, but even this becomes tedious and dull after a while. Soon, I’m listening primarily for informational reasons, rather than for any sense of comfort or entertainment it might once have brought me. I also spend a lot of time watching and observing. ,, Tyche is positioned towards the outer edge of the “inner” Oort cloud, and so it follows that the majority of my journey takes me through the Oort cloud itself. Now, it isn’t as though there are asteroids blocking my path every third gigameter or anything like that (it isn’t called “space” for nothing, after all), but there are asteroids between me and my objective and I really do not want to find out what it’s like to run into one of them while traveling at relativistic speeds. So, needless to say, I spend a lot of time and effort maintaining a watch for any asteroids that might pose a collision hazard. ,, This is even harder to do than it probably sounds. Aside from the fact that it’s hard to keep an eye out for much of anything when you’re moving at a significant fraction of c, the thing about asteroids is that they’re extremely small (on an astronomical scale) and most of them are incredibly dim as well. My remote-sensing ability, I’ve found, has a hard time ‘spotting’ anything less massive than a small moon, and most asteroids are less than one kilometer on a side. Eventually I develop a technique for simply picking a route and scanning for anything that’s sitting in the middle of it, period, never mind what it is or any other particular details about it. Using my remote-sensing abilities as thousand-AU long ‘feelers’ seems to work a lot better than trying to perform a detailed scan of every chunk of space dust between me and my destination. And of course I use my eyes, which seem to become more acute all the time. In the end, I never come closer than several million kilometers to any of the Oort or Kuiper belt asteroids. ,, It’s as I’m passing relatively near to one of these asteroids that I first begin to get an indication of how massive my post-human nova body is. When I was in orbit around Tyche its powerful gravity well must’ve been drowning everything else out, because I never noticed it there, but out here in the void between planets it slowly becomes obvious to me that I’m carrying around a measurable gravity field with me – which seems kind of impossible. Sure, technically, everything has its own gravitational field that attracts everything else, but anything smaller than a kilometer or so in diameter has a gravitational attraction that’s so weak it’s hardly worth noticing. On the other hand, the field I seem to be generating is significantly more than ten orders of magnitude greater than anything a normal human would be generating. I remember enough Newtonian physics to run some calculations based on my observations, but the numbers I come up with don’t make sense. Trillions of kilograms worth of mass shouldn’t be able to fit into a human-sized form. ,, That’s another thing: my memory is really good now, and even the biggest numbers don’t seem to give me much trouble anymore. I’ve got a background in engineering, but I’m no physicist and I’m certainly no expert on astrodynamics, rocket science, or Newtonian or Einsteinian physics, and yet I feel like I’m doing pretty well in all of these fields, and a couple of others besides, due solely to the fact that I can clearly remember everything I’ve ever heard or read about the math and science underlying these fields. Coupled with my post-nova affinity for very complicated mathematical calculations, I find I myself able to calculate things like how many Newtons of force I’m exerting on that asteroid over there, thirteen million kilometers and some change off my two o-clock. Too weird.
  6. ,, My flight from Tyche to the outermost edges of the solar system (as measured by Neptune’s orbit) winds up taking me only 5.8102 x 107 seconds, which OK, yes, that’s a long time, but I think anyone would agree that it’s a significant improvement over 7.0186 x 107 seconds. More than four month’s worth of improvement, in point of fact. Needless to say, my average acceleration has gotten better during my travels. ,, By the time I reach the last few hundred thousand kilometers of the roughly fifteen thousand astronomical units I must cross in order to reach my destination, my average acceleration over the entire length of the journey has reached a whopping 2.651 m/s2, which is only around 27% of one standard gravity. This is still only my average acceleration, however. My actual acceleration by this point is 17.6667 m/s2, which is pretty nearly two full g’s of thrust. There are two reasons for the discrepancy between my actual and my average acceleration. ,, The first reason is that, aside from a few semi-fantastical exceptions that are still not out of the “really neat idea” phase, let alone the design phase, there are no propellants or engines in existence that can maintain constant acceleration, over a scale of years, larger than a very small fraction of a meter per second squared. My own ability to propel myself through space is no exception. At “full burn”, I can maintain constant acceleration for approximately sixty-six hundred seconds at a time before I’m “all out of juice”, so to speak; if I take it easy and go at half-strength or less, the span of time over which I can maintain constant acceleration increases in inverse proportion. ,, Usually I just go full-burn until I’m all worn out, though, because something I’ve gotten even better at than generating thrust or listening for radio signals is regenerating my power levels (or battery charge or whatever it is that keeps us novas going). It generally takes me less than fifteen thousand seconds to regenerate fully, so I can typically manage slightly more than four full-burn sessions per twenty-four hour period. The actual percentage works out to pretty nearly 30% of every day that I can spend at full-burn, which in turn works out to roughly 30% of each week or month or year. And 30% of 17.6667 m/s2 is 5.3001 m/s2, which in turn is my maximum average acceleration. ,, I’m sure it’s readily apparent to anyone, but this is exactly twice the acceleration I quoted above as being my overall average, which brings me to the second reason for the discrepancy between that number and my actual acceleration. I know I’ve covered this before, but it’s worth going over again: in space, once an object is in motion it will remain that way until acted upon by an outside force. What this means in practical terms for me is that, unless I want to crash into another moon while traveling at several kilometers a second (or actually, a whole hell of a lot faster than that, given how long I would’ve been accelerating by this point), I have to start DE-celerating at about the halfway point of my journey. In essence, I must spend the first half of my journey building up speed and the second half shedding it all. The net result, from a mathematical perspective, is that my effective average acceleration over the entirety of my journey can be no faster than one-half of my maximum average acceleration. And one-half of 5.3001 m/s2 is 2.651 m/s2. ,, And there you go: basic astrodynamics. Bet you feel smarter already. ,, Something that really confuses me for a kind a long while is that my trip seems to be taking even less time than it should, even if I account for the steady increase in my average acceleration. The difference isn’t huge – especially not at first – but the discrepancy gets worse over time until I just can’t ignore it. After a while, though, I figure it out: time dilation. ,, By the time I reach the midpoint of my journey and have to turn it around and start shedding speed I’m travelling at fully seventy-six thousand, nine hundred and eighty-seven kilometers per second (that’s just shy of seventy-seven kilometers for every one-thousandth of a second, for those keeping score). A different way to say it is that I’m moving at exactly 25.68% of the speed of light. Of course, my average speed over the entire trip works out to only 12.84% of light speed, but that’s still really fast. Fast enough, in fact, for relativistic time dilation to begin to matter. ,, Overall, the net effect of the relativistic time dilation between my own frame of reference and any stationary observer is about 0.008 seconds per second. That probably doesn’t seem like much, but it starts to add up after fifty-eight million seconds. As a result, to me the entire trip winds up seeming as though it’s taken 5.762 x 107 seconds, rather than the 5.8102 x 107 seconds that it seems like it should have (and that it did take, from the frame of reference of any hypothetical earth-bound observer who might’ve been watching me during my travels). Again, the difference isn’t large, but it’s still strange to think that I’ve effectively moved more than five whole days into the rest of the human race’s future.
  7. After breaking free of that moon I find that my surroundings – my circumstances – no longer scare me. I still respect the dangers and the phenomenally powerful forces that Tyche and the airless void surrounding it represent, but I no longer fear them. It’s fair to say I’m even becoming acclimated to the sidereal environment around Tyche. Considering my recent return from parts un-sane, and the bouts of hubristic thinking spurred on by revelations of my own nova powers and apparent unkillability, I decide it’s probably not in my best interest to devote too much thought to the fact that I am, in the strictest technical sense, now a celestial being. ,, For a while I circle Tyche, partially because it’s a good way to practice flying and to hone my senses by observing all parts of my environment, but really because I want to find the bodies of my friends, hoping I can swoop down and catch them before they fall into Tyche’s atmosphere. The effort is doomed to failure, though. Tyche’s surface area is measured in billions of kilometers, and even if I only focus on the equatorial region around which we were all orbiting (which I do), I’ve still got hundreds of millions of kilometers of surface area to go over. Meanwhile, Tom, Fred and Sam have been dead for a little over three years at this point and were all encased in half-meter thick shells of ice last I saw them, so it’s not like they stand out against the background. (Yes, I know I said I didn’t want to talk about how long I was stuck floating out there, and I still don’t, but well… there it is.) ,, I wind up spending most of my time trying to spot our rented fishing boat, since it’s much larger than all three of my friends combined, but I never see a hint of it either. In the end, I spend one hundred twenty-four thousand and fifty-one seconds less time searching for my friends than I spent buried under that moon (which is still two million, sixty-four thousand, seven hundred and forty-seven seconds, or about six minutes shy of 24 days), before finally giving up the search and admitting defeat. I try to console myself with the thought that a previously undiscovered gas giant not much smaller than Jupiter makes for a much more impressive burial place than most people ever get, but small comfort is all this is good for, at least in my case. ,, My plan to improve my ability to travel through space under my own power, however, and to hone my senses, is a rousing success. In fact, about half-way through my search for my friends, a mini-epiphany causes me to realize that either I’d been less mentally disturbed than I’d thought, or significantly more so, as it becomes apparent to me that I really had been hearing all those voices in my head back before I’d crashed into a moon. I’ve been picking up broadcasts from earth for years now, but until recently it’d all been a jumbled mess of shouting and singing and announcing and preaching – most of it in languages I couldn’t understand. (It had occurred to me to wonder at the time why they’d all gone quiet during my time buried under that moon.) ,, Once I give up on the search for Tom and the others I devote my full attention to this new awareness that has forced itself upon me and that has, frankly, been distracting me terribly ever since. It takes me a while to learn how to parse out individual signals, as well as to hone in on the source of those signals (yes, I already know they’re coming from earth, I just don’t yet know where earth is yet), but eventually I find what I’m looking for. I mentioned a while back that there was one star that was much closer to me than any of the others, and I’d suspected for a while that this was the sun, so I naturally focus my search there since I know earth – if that really is the sun – orbits relatively close to it. In the end it takes me thirteen million, forty-five thousand and seventy-two seconds of nearly constant and uninterrupted listening and squinting before I finally make out the tiny blue star that is, in fact, the earth. Planet Earth. My home. The joy of finally discovering it is marred only by my complete inability to shed tears of happiness or even to cry out in pleasure, and is otherwise entirely complete. ,, It takes me only thirty-six hundred and forty-five seconds (to my surprise and delight) to calculate the path I’ll want to take to reach the planet of my birth. I’m less pleased with the amount of time it’s going to take (an estimated 7.0186 x 107 seconds), but I have hope that with practice and effort I’ll be able to increase my rate of acceleration and cut my time in transit down considerably. Time will tell. ,, The length of the journey ahead of me causes me to hesitate, but only for 2.3 seconds – if the death of my friends hadn’t turned Tyche into a gravesite that I wanted very badly to leave behind me things might’ve been different. I might not have been so willing to abandon the relative safety of its gravity well and magnetic field. But as it is I’m all too ready to risk travel across a void more than two trillion, two hundred forty-three billion, nine hundred and sixty-eight million kilometers across, even though I have no guarantee that I will succeed in crossing that distance, and even though it will likely take me years to cross even if I do succeed. ,, On a whim, I stop off at the crater left behind by my crash landing on Tyche’s moon. I float down into what’s left of the hole I created during my escape from its embrace and pick up the first rock that catches my eye once I reach its bottom. Clutching it in my hand I float back up out of the hole, out of the impact crater, and away from the moon and huge Tyche behind it, and I begin my journey back to earth.
  8. Congratulations, Fox! Hopefully things will settle down for you guys once you're all moved in, but I'm glad to hear that things seem to be working out well for you guys overall. I'm also glad to hear (and see) that you're still around.
  9. Body-slamming a moon at about one-tenth of a mile over 16,126 miles per hour isn’t something I recommend trying. ,, Unsurprisingly, the impact knocks me unconscious. Very surprisingly, however, it doesn’t kill me. I have no idea how long I’m out for, but when I finally come to I can tell immediately that while I might still be alive, I’m pretty banged up. Well, no, actually I'm really banged up and can barely move, but I'm so happy to still be alive I try not to dwell on that too much. It also feels like most of the moon is piled up on top of me, and given that I can’t see anything and I can barely move, I figure the speed and force when I impacted must’ve left me buried down inside it. How far down I don’t know yet, but I’m too busy being injured to care just then. ,, My injuries are strange, too. I can tell they’re bad, but I wouldn’t say they ‘hurt’, exactly, it's just that somehow they don’t feel ‘right’ either. Or at least, they don’t feel normal. Instead of any familiar sensations, like the grinding of broken bones or the stiffness of swollen or torn soft tissues, all of the feedback I’m getting is alien and unfamiliar. It almost feels like I’ve got fault lines or something, and considering what little I know about my new body that may actually be the case…. ,, A little more than two million, one hundred eighty-eight thousand, seven hundred and ninety-seven seconds pass from the time I first return to consciousness until I’m finally well enough to make any real progress in extracting myself from the hole my own stupidity has quite literally dug for me. That’s almost 608 hours, or about eight hours more than twenty-five days. ,, This is also known as a Very Long Time, especially considering I can’t really see anything, or even move around much. Fortunately I lapse in and out of consciousness more than once during this time, though after the first time I always somehow know exactly how much time has passed since the last time I lost consciousness. Another thing that’s kind of nice is that I can sort-of, kind-of hear down here under the moon’s surface, what with the dirt packed in so close around me. After enduring months on end of the absolute silence of outer space, this isn’t so bad, I figure. Not that it’s good either, but it may be that I’m still riding a euphoric high from my success in finally escaping my orbital prison and it’s making me overly optimistic. Also, at this relatively early point in my life as a nova, I’m still pretty deep into that “nothing in the universe can stop me” phase that some of us go through – and considering I got here by flying a few hundred thousand kilometers under my own power and surviving an impact with a moon while moving at about Mach 22, it’s difficult to see why I shouldn’t feel that way at the moment. ,, Anyway, I deal with my time spent buried in a moon orbiting a frozen gas giant a quarter of a light year out from our sun a whole better than I initially dealt with being trapped in a decaying orbit around that same gas giant. Go figure. ,, Eventually, though, this strange shell I now call my body stops feeling like an egg in danger of cracking open and I begin to test it against the small mountain (or so it feels like) of moon-rocks piled up on top of me. I have no idea how much material is actually pressing down on me, because the moon I’d hit, though large, had a gravity that was at best only a fraction of earth’s. So, probably a lot. I’ve had a feeling for a while now that this body’s pretty strong, but I had nothing to test this theory against while drifting in orbit around Tyche; now it’s a tremendous test of strength just to shift my weight an inch. ,, For a long while I get no further in my attempts at extricating myself than I had back when I’d first woken up and was still badly injured. Apparently the sheer speed of my impact resulted in a lot of heat or something, because as far as I can tell the rock above me is more or less fused solid, and it really doesn’t want to budge. I realize pretty quickly, though, that this shell of mine, this body, can be pushed really hard, because when I try to push on all the stuff burying me and it doesn’t budge I try pushing harder. This gets me nowhere, so I push even harder, and then harder still. I realize at this point that my arms aren’t even feeling fatigued yet, let alone on the verge of failing or hurting themselves, so I just start piling on the pressure, pushing harder and harder and harder, until finally I feel the dirt and rocks above me begin to shift. ,, Seriously, how do novas ever manage to keep themselves grounded as people when we’ve got access to this kind of power? I should be dead so many times over by this point in the narrative that the karmic offset is probably driving some endangered species to extinction back on earth, and meanwhile here I am, still alive, and using my bare hands to lift not just one or two, or dozens, or even hundreds, but thousands of metric tons of mass off of me. Experiencing this happen, and being the one accomplishing it, is both exhilarating and terrifying; exhilarating because it’s the kind of thing that really does make you feel like you have no limits, and terrifying because you can’t help but wonder what something like this says about what you are. Emphasis on the ‘what’…. ,, Of course, then reality catches up with me, and all the rocks and dirt surrounding the stuff I’ve been pushing up on collapses into the tiny little open space I’ve just created, burying me all over again. So much for nothing in the universe being able to get in my way. It isn’t a total loss though, because now I’m in a more or less upright position and there’s enough loose material around my legs and arms for me to get some real leverage once I’m ready to try this again. It’ll be a while before then, though, because now that I’ve stopped I can tell that lifting so much weight actually did take a bit out of me – a lot out of me, actually. I feel like I might have one more good push in me at the moment, but after that I’m pretty sure I’ll be tapped out. So, trying not to feel too frustrated at this unexpected and uncomfortable turn of events, I settle in to wait for my energy levels to return and decide to use the time practicing the meditation techniques I’ve been teaching myself while trapped down here. (Honestly, it’s more like I’ve been learning how to zone out with a professional level of skill, because I don’t know the first thing about any real meditation techniques.) ,, Seven thousand, two hundred and thirty-three seconds later I will myself back to full consciousness and confirm that I’m feeling about as good as I’m ever likely to, given the circumstances, and I decide to have another go at it. This time, instead of gradually ramping up the force, I gather it all up inside of me, coiling the power up like a spring at the core of my person, and then I let it all loose at once and push. The results are suitably dramatic. ,, The roof over my cramped lunar accommodations cracks and gives way so quickly my feet leave the ground as I continue to push upwards from underneath. Rocks, chunks of dirt and clouds of fine grit all start collapsing into the space I’ve just made, but I let it slide by me and fill in the hole underneath my floating form. Meanwhile, the ceiling above me is still rising, but not as quickly, and I feel myself having to push harder for less effect. I can feel that I won’t be able to keep this up for much longer. Now that I’ve gotten this far, though, I really don’t want to stop until I can see the sky again, so I rear back and then lunge at the rocks above me, smashing into them with my shoulder with as much force as I can muster. ,, That really gets things moving, and for an instant I’m not even pushing on anything anymore, the rocks above me go flying upwards so quickly. But what goes up must come down, and though my little stunt loosened things up enough for me to gain another several meters in height, now all that loose dirt and those rocks come tumbling back down onto me, threatening to leave me buried and immobile yet again. Because I still can’t really see much of anything, I’m not even aware of the problem until it’s almost too late, so my reaction is one of almost pure instinct with little or no place for conscious thought in the matter. Once I again I unleash the titanian strength within me and push – but this time I do it without my arms or my legs – I just push. I push everything, in every direction, all at once and equally and then I launch myself upwards with renewed force, slamming into the crumbling rocks overhead with enough force to pulverize the first few cubic meters of it and turn everything after that into fine grit. ,, And then I’m out, floating free in the middle of a fairly impressive crater in the moon’s airless surface, with a sky full of stars overhead and Tyche’s enormous bulk sitting low on the horizon to my left.
  10. Glad to hear it. Also, I should've said already, but thanks for taking the time to review the character and specifically the custom power, Remote Survey. I appreciate your consideration on the matter.
  11. As I’ve already mentioned, I spend a very long time orbiting helplessly around Tyche, because for a very long time there’s really not much I can do to change that. Space will really screw you over like that; unless you’ve got something to push against or a gravity field to pull on you, you’re stuck. What I haven’t mentioned yet is that my orbit around Tyche isn’t a stable one; me, my friends, that stupid boat I was standing on when all this started, we’re all stuck in a slowly decaying orbit that’s taking us deeper and deeper into the planet’s powerful gravity well with each revolution. ,, The rate of decay is slow, so I don’t really pay it much mind at first, but like I said: I spend way too long spinning around that cold Jupiter. After a while I can’t help but develop a sense of urgency about this situation. Another thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that astronomy has been a hobby of mine for years – since my early teens, in fact – so I have a pretty good idea of how this whole ‘decaying orbit’ thing ends, and between my knowledge as an amateur astronomer and my new nova senses I’ve got a pretty good idea of what it’s like down there underneath Tyche’s cloud layers as well. Whatever my eruption into a nova has done to me, I’m obviously tough enough now to survive in deep space indefinitely and with no trouble at all – which makes me pretty tough – but even so, I don’t rate my chances of surviving the pressures and temperatures waiting for me underneath those clouds very highly. ,, As Tyche starts to take up more and more of my sky I become more desperate in direct proportion and start trying things I would never normally consider. Prayer, for one thing. I say a lot of prayers and make overtures of fealty and devotion to more than one deity, though I’m dubious about whether any of this helps. ,, Another thing I try is simply willing myself back to earth. Hey, I somehow managed to teleport myself way out here into deep space, right? Who’s to say I can’t use the same trick to get back to earth? But I’m pretty sure the only reason that worked was because I somehow used the mass of the meteor about to hit me as fuel for the jump out here, and I don’t have another dozen kilotons of meteor to work with at the moment, nor am I sure I’d know what to do with it if I did, so, unsurprisingly, nothing happens. ,, Eventually I just settle on trying to fly, which actually seems like a pretty reasonable plan once I decide to go with it. I am a nova, after all, and everyone knows novas can fly. Some of them, at least. I decide I have to be one of them, and try not to feel too much like the little engine that could as I attempt to propel myself out of a pretty big gravity well on belief alone. At first I do this by ‘feeling’ for Tyche using that extra sense I mentioned earlier and then trying to ‘push’ against it. Basically, I try using anti-gravity, which is really stupid of me because there’s no such thing. Any idiot knows that. Fortunately I manage to pull my head out of my ass after a while of this futility and realize I should maybe try something that’s at least physically possible. So I try using plain old gravity instead. ,, This is not quite as ridiculous of a plan as it probably sounds. I’ve already determined beyond any shadow of a doubt by this point that I can detect the gravity fields of planetary bodies, and assuming that I really did manage to teleport myself out here somehow (and ignoring completely that this probably means I’m at fault for the deaths of Tom, Sam and Fred, because I am nowhere near ready to cope with that kind of guilt under my current circumstances) there are only so many plausible ways that could’ve happened, and they all involve lots of gravitational forces. All of which means there’s a pretty good chance I can do stuff with gravity. So I give it a shot. ,, I choose a spot – the surface of the nearest moon, actually – and I start trying to pull myself there using the tenuous thread of gravity I can feel connecting me to it. To my surprise and joy this actually works. At first, though, all that happens is that my orbital trajectory around Tyche increases by a fraction so small it’s barely worth mentioning. (The only reason I’m even aware of the increase in speed, miniscule as it is, is because of my new and intuitive grasp of distances and the relative speeds of objects that can be calculated based off of that.) Still, even a slightly increased orbital velocity is enough to slow down the rate of my orbit’s decay. ,, After several orbits worth of painfully slow acceleration I see that my friends, and the fishing boat we’d rented, have all dropped significantly behind me and are several hundred kilometers closer to Tyche’s surface than I am as well. This causes a pang of anxiety in me that I’m really not prepared for as I realize that this distance is only going to get larger as they continue to descend and that eventually my friends will fall into Tyche’s atmosphere. The anxiety passes, however, as I struggle to accept that there’s really nothing I can do about this, considering my circumstances. So I keep on pulling on that thread of gravity. ,, After several more orbits I manage to accelerate enough to stop the decay, and with a sense of incredibly profound relief I discover that my life is no longer in immediate peril. By this point I’ve become much better at this ‘flying’ stuff and my rate of acceleration has been steadily increasing for a while. It isn’t long before my orbit not only isn’t decaying anymore but is actually increasing in elevation, the moon I’ve been aiming for getting slowly but steadily closer all the time. ,, Time passes, and soon the moon that is my objective is very close indeed. And it’s at this point I realize my mistake, but it’s far too late by this time. I’ve been so focused on reaching this moon that I’ve done nothing but accelerate towards it and that’s a problem because – once again – space. In space an object in motion (that’s me in this example) remains in motion until acted upon by an outside force (which, because I haven’t been decelerating like I should have been, is about to be the surface of a pretty big moon). ,, My folly becomes apparent to me 1 hour, 7 minutes and 18 seconds before I reach my objective, leaving me with a full four thousand and thirty-eight seconds to experience a shockingly broad range and intensity of emotions that last right up until I plow into the moon’s surface at a speed of exactly 7.209 kilometers per second.
  12. He doesn't have eufiber. To borrow some terms from M&M, he's using the effects contained within eufiber, just not its descriptors. In Aurelius' case it's an 'Epidermal Diamondoid Matrix'; that's the descriptor; the effects are essentially the same as eufiber. Same thing goes for the merit. ,, That's one thing that Aberrant players seem to have trouble getting used to, despite the more than fifteen years that've passed since it's first publication, despite that gray sidebar on pg. 178 of the core book, and despite the section on pg. 97-98 of the Player's Guide (which even calls out the concept of looking at 'effects' while trying to explain how to customize new powers). This difficulty is understandable, though, given that the developers themselves often seemed to fail to take their own advice. In any case, I'm just using pre-existing and already-vetted mechanics to manage a custom aspect of my character. I didn't call it out because the rules surrounding eufiber are well understood and pretty thoroughly play-tested at this point, so I didn't think there was anything that needed reviewing on that front, and his 'diamondoid matrix' doesn't fall under the 'limited supply' problem that is the reason that eufiber clothing is banned. ,, If it's a problem, though, I'll remove it from his sheet. It's not like he needs the extra soak or quantum - it's largely there for flavor. ,, Edit: I just re-read this, and apparently I shouldn't post when it's late and I'm tired, because not only does this post seem a little bit rambling to me, it also seems a little unfriendly. My apologies, Fox, if that's how it came across. ,, All I was really trying to say was that I was re-skinning an existing background and explaining why that exempted it (IMO) from the supply issue that canon eufiber faces in Cosmos Nova.
  13. So, I spend a long, long time just floating in space, surrounded by the detritus of that fishing boat I mentioned and a slowly expanding cloud of ice crystals that are what’s become of the several hundred thousand gallons of seawater that came along with us. And the corpses of my friends. They’re in the same orbit as I am, so we all just kind of float along together. It’s space, you know? So unless something bumps into your or something, you just keep following the same path, forever. We do bump into ice crystals a lot, though – all of us, I mean, Tom and Fred and Sam too, not just me or the boat. I keep on moving about – or trying to anyway – so the ice doesn’t really stick to me too much, but the others… after a while I almost can’t tell that they’re… ,, Let’s talk about something else, okay? ,, Anyway, I float helplessly like that for a real long time. How long? No, I don’t want to talk about that, either. Long enough, I think I might have gone a little crazy for a bit there, let’s just say that. I know I do kind of a lot of flailing about at first, which is stupid because then I can’t stop flailing – again: space. So then I’m stuck spinning around my center of mass like planet Me for several orbits around the gas giant until finally I bump into Sa- …into something else, and I push away quicker than anything because… you know… ,, So, that changes my spin a bit, but not much and in any case, I’m still spinning. That goes on for a while; the gas giant (which, I know now, is the not-so-hypothetical-anymore planet Tyche) swings into my field of view for an average of 26.3044 seconds before disappearing behind me again and then I’m staring at open space for more or less the exact same number of seconds until Tyche swings back into view again. This happens over and over and over and over and over and over again, and then it happens all over again, because the record-player’s stuck on repeat. ,, Eventually, after I start to get over the whole going insane thing, I begin to notice some other things. Well, really I’ve been noticing them for a long time, but not being in your right mind is more distracting than you might think, so I hadn’t been paying attention. Once I do start paying attention, though, it turns out there’s a whole lot of things I’m noticing. ,, For starters, I’m not actually me anymore – I mean, I am still me, of course – I’m just not the same me as I was back on earth. There’s no mirrors or anything out here, but I can still see my body just fine, and it’s not my body anymore. I’m, like, made of diamonds and gold now, or something. That’s what it looks like, anyway: skin made of diamonds the color of amber covering ‘flesh’ that looks as though it’s made of polished gold. I’m as hard as diamonds now, too; my body still moves like it’s made out of flesh and blood, but if I press down on my skin it doesn’t give even a millimeter. It actually looks pretty cool and I might even describe it as beautiful except that, you know, it’s me. I’m not sure how I feel about this development. ,, Still, even in my addled state I’m aware that this change in my physiology probably has something to do with me not being dead yet, which is something I can appreciate. And that brings me to another thing that’s different – and also so obvious it’s embarrassing that it’s taken me this long to realize it: I don’t breathe anymore. I haven’t taken a breath since that first, failed attempt at a scream when I first popped into orbit around Tyche, and that was a while ago. Just as obvious, once I think about it, is that I apparently don’t need to eat or drink anymore, because it’s been kind of a while since I was able to do either of those things and I don’t even feel hungry or thirsty, never mind dead of starvation or dehydration. Also, there’s the cold; I can feel the utter lack of heat gnawing at my diamond skin, but now that I’m paying attention I realize it’s not getting any deeper than that, and that underneath my skin I don’t actually feel either cold or hot. So no freezing to death for me, either, it seems. ,, I get stuck on the space-isn’t-killing-me thing for a while, but eventually I shift my attention over to all of the other new things vying for it; there’s so many it’s a little overwhelming. It’s at right about this point that I realize that I somehow just know how far away Tyche is from where I’m floating (418,045.04km), as well as how big it is (bigger than Jupiter, as I mentioned earlier). This leads me to the revelation that I ‘just know’ how far away pretty much everything I can see is, and I can see a lot; stars and stars and more stars, along with the moons and rings orbiting Tyche. The moons and rings are all between 100,000 and 1 million kilometers from my own orbit, but the stars are all so far away that the distances are sort of meaningless to me. All except one. Well, no, that’s not quite true. Even this star is so distant that I can’t really comprehend it, but it’s closer to my position than any of the other stars by entire orders of magnitude. ,, I realize, too, as I’m looking at all of these different objects and instinctively measuring how far away they are, that not only can I see them all far better than I should be able to, I see them differently. It turns out I’m seeing radiation all up and down most of the EM spectrum, though it takes me a little bit to work that out, and that I can resolve images to a level of detail that far surpasses anything my eyes were capable of before. Also, I have three eyes. You’d think a person would notice something like that a little sooner, but I don’t until I happen to blink with the two I already knew I had but leave the third I didn’t know I had open and can still see everything through it as a result. At this point in the sequence of personal revelations I’m experiencing, I don’t even spend much time dwelling on my newly-discovered third eye, let alone find it alarming. ,, It takes me longer to notice than all the new visual sensory input I’m getting, but eventually I realize that I can feel the gas giant I’m orbiting, and at some point after that it occurs to me that I can feel Tyche’s moons as well, even when they’re on the other side of the planet from me. I can’t seem to pick out anything smaller than a moon with this new sense of mine though (at least not yet; later on this sense becomes refined enough for me to pick out even small asteroids only a few kilometers in diameter). ‘Feel’ isn’t really the right word for it what it’s like, either, but I don’t know any words that can really describe it. It’s a little like seeing, only you’re really seeing things, from all sides and in all four dimensions, but other times it’s more like a taste or a smell, except that every taste or smell seems like it’s loaded down with more information than I can easily process. In the end, though, it’s like trying to describe what the vacuum of open space feels like – words are just not up to the job.
  14. They say that in space, no one can hear you scream. ,, But that isn’t how it works, because in space? You can’t scream. ,, I mean, sure, you can explosively expel any air you happen to be carrying around in your lungs into the deep, cold vacuum all around you – assuming, that is, that your lungs haven’t already ruptured due to the pressure difference – but you aren’t going to be making any sound when you do. And once you expel all your air and fail utterly in your attempt at screaming, you can’t even take another breath and try again. Because, you know, it’s space. There’s nothing to breathe out here. ,, I can say this from first-hand experience, because trust me: when your eruption as a nova includes a giant ball of fire falling out of the sky and dropping onto your head, only to find yourself suddenly and mysteriously dropped into orbit around a previously uncharted “cold Jupiter”, spinning through the darkness a full quarter of a light year out from the sun (instead of, say, dead from sudden-meteor overdose, for example) – well, let’s just say that screaming seems like the most appropriate response when it happens, and leave it at that. ,, They say the Refugees came from another dimension, right? And that there are potentially an infinite number of other dimensions out there besides theirs and our own, too. Knowing that, I can’t help but wonder at the highly improbable – hell, the astronomically improbable – sequence of events that led to that meteor even entering the earth’s atmosphere in the first place, let alone to it landing right where I’m standing at the time it hits me. (Which, if you’re curious, is on a small fishing boat off the coast of Mexico, thanks for asking.) I can’t help but wonder how many other universes there are out there where I get to finish my vacation in Cabo – and if those other universes don’t outnumber this one by somewhere around “infinity-to-one” – or what the odds are that I’d be the version of me that’s living in this universe instead of in one of those others. And right about here is where the whole multiverse thing starts hurting my brain, causing me to find something else to think about…. ,, I find out much later that the meteor that sparked my eruption was the source of a major mystery in the days following my own then-presumed death. Afterwards, the scientific community apparently convinced itself, along with the rest of the world, that the meteor (which estimates say was travelling at several dozen times the speed of sound when it hit our atmosphere) exploded in an air-burst when it was only a few hundred meters over the waters of the Bahia San Lucas. Which is why they call it a ‘meteor’ instead of a ‘meteorite’ – it never actually hit the ground. The only thing the scientists can’t explain is why the air burst explosion of a meteor estimated to weigh more than 12,000 metric tons didn’t wipe Cabo San Lucas off the map, because all it did do was break windows for miles around and make a really big noise. Only four people were declared dead in the aftermath (myself among them), though a lot of people were injured by all the flying glass. ‘Where did all that mass and energy go?’ you ask, but they have no answers. ,, Personally, I don’t think it went anywhere, I think it became – specifically, I think all that mass and energy became me, but even now I couldn’t tell you what really happened that day. I can only tell you what I remember, which is this: ,, There’s a sudden flash, like a second sun just popped into the sky or something, and I look up only to be blinded by a light that’s actually brighter than the sun; I’m feeling my eardrums burst under the relentless pressure of a noise that seems like it’s bigger than the whole world, along with the sensation of my skin being baked off by the heat flash the light brings with it – and then, silence. ,, And also coldness. But not just silence as in the absence of sound or coldness as in the Long Night of the Arctic Circle; this silence and this cold do not represent the lack of their opposites – sound and warmth – but the utter impossibility of the existence of those things. Think about it: when you hear a sound, that’s the molecules in the air around you vibrating, and when you get cold it’s because the air around you is cold and it’s sucking away your warmth; in a vacuum, sound and temperature can’t exist. You think you know what real silence is or what true cold feels like? No. You really don’t. ,, Anyway, it’s hard to describe. ,, Whatever the cause, I suddenly find myself floating helplessly in blackness and struggling with a crippling case of vertigo as I stare thousands upon thousands of kilometers straight down at something so large my mind is having trouble comprehending it. It’s a planet, a gas giant, and it’s literally bigger than I have a frame of reference for; it’s forcing a new frame of reference on me even as I stare at it. Distantly, it occurs to me that until just this moment I’ve never really understood what words like ‘huge’ or ‘enormous’ really meant. Later on, when I realize I have an intuitive sense of dimension and distance, among other things, I measure this planet’s equatorial radius as 76,324.607785km – bigger than Jupiter, though not by much. ,, I don’t really have time to think about all this at the time, though, as I realize that I haven’t arrived here alone. The boat I was standing on when the meteor detonated is here with me, along with what looks like a significant portion of the water the boat was floating on. And so are the three friends who were on the boat with me. ,, Tom Kerry, Fred McHenry and Sam Harris. Those were their names. Watching deep space kill people is a terrible thing. ,,
  15. Physical Attributes: Str: ●●●●● ●●●●● (Powerful) Dex: ●●●●● ● (Steady) Sta: ●●●●● ●●● (Tireless) ,, Mental Attributes: Per: ●●●●● ●●● (Detail-Oriented) Int: ●●●●● (Pragmatic) Wit: ●●●●● (Jaded) ,, Social Attributes: App: ●●●● (Statuesque) Man: ●●●● (Authoritative) Cha: ●●●● (Quiet Confidence) ,, Abilities: Might: ●●●●● Athletics: ●●●● Martial Arts: ●● Pilot: ● Channeling: ●●●●● (rapid recovery) Endurance: ●●●●● Resistance: ●●●●● Awareness: ●●●●● Navigation: ●● Academics: ● Computer: ● Engineering: ●●● Medicine: ● Science: ●● (astronomy) Survival: ●● Arts: ● Meditation: ●●● Modulate: ●●● Rapport: ●●● Tactics: ● Intimidate: ● Style: ●● Streetwise: ●●● Subterfuge: ●● ,, Backgrounds: Allies: ●● Attunement: ●●●●● Epidermal Diamondoid Matrix: ●●●●● Node: ●●●●● ●● ,, Quantum: ●●●●● ● Quantum Pool: 88 Taint: 8 Willpower: ●●●●● ●●● ,, Health Levels: Bruised: ●●●●● ● Hurt: ● Injured: ● Wounded: ● Maimed: ●●●●● ●● Crippled: ● Incapacitated: ● Soak: Stamina: 16/8 Epidermal Matrix: 8/8 Mega-Stamina: 10/6 Armor: 18/18 Body Morph: 5/5 Invulnerability: 36/36/36 ----------- Base Total: 34/24 Power Total: 93/83/36 - +1 diff to hit Maintained Total: 99/89/36 - +7 diff to hit ,, Initiative: 15 Movement: Run: 21m Sprint: 47m Flight: 450kph Hyper-Flight: 1500kph ,, Merits: Eidetic Memory (3), Eufiber (Epidermal Diamondoid Matrix) Attunement (3), Lightning Calculator (2), Quantum Recovery (3) ,, Flaws: Heavy Weight (-3; base weight of 3.5 metric tons; 112 tons total), Permanent Power (-5; body morph) ,, Aberrations: Aberrant Eyes (Low; crystalline, glowing), Aberrant Hair (Low; hair like spun golden diamonds), Footprints (Medium), Vulnerability (Medium; magnetically-based attacks), Feeding Requirement (High; hard or soft radiation) ,, Mega-Attributes: Mega-Strength: ● (●●●● ●) – lifter, pull, push Mega-Dexterity: ●●● – empty force, physical prodigy Mega-Stamina: ●●●●● – adaptability, resiliency (x2) Mega-Perception: ●●●●● – EMV, holographic awareness, hyper-enhanced hearing (strength: supplemental sense (sight) +3; weakness: sight can only make use of radio scan portion of the enhancement -2; net of +1 strength) Mega-Intelligence: ● - eidetic memory (merit), linguistic genius, mathematical savant (merit), mental prodigy: scientific Mega-Wits: ● – mind over matter Mega-Appearance: ● – awe-inspiring ,, Powers: Diamondoid Carapace Armor (L2): ●●●●● ● Extras: Super-Heavy Strengths/Weaknesses: None ,, Hyper-Dense Carbonaceous Shell Body Modifications (L0): Enhanced Vocal Chords, Extra Health Levels (x2 bruised, x6 maimed), Hyper-Strong Skeleton (x2), Improved Attributes (strength, dexterity, stamina, perception) Extras: None Strengths/Weaknesses: None ,, Gravitational Singularity Body Morph (Hard Solid; L2): ●●●●● – (density increase (x4); gravitational field) Extras: Extreme Density Strengths/Weaknesses: grav-field range removed (-2); grav-field duration changed to Permanent (+2) ,, Unassisted Flight Flight (L2): ●●● Extras: None Strengths/Weaknesses: None ,, Hyper-Movement (flight): ●●● Extras: None Strengths/Weaknesses: None ,, Indestructible Invulnerability (being involuntarily moved; L2): ● Extras: None Strengths/Weaknesses: None ,, Invulnerability (quantum-manipulating/-draining attacks; L2): ●● Extras: None Strengths/Weaknesses: None ,, Invulnerability (radiation; L2): ●●●●● ● Extras: Broad Category (Energy) Strengths/Weaknesses: None ,, Invulnerability (kinetic; L2): ●●●●● ● Extras: Broad Category (Physical) Strengths/Weaknesses: None ,, Free Electron Laser Quantum Bolt (L2): ●●●●● Extras: None Strengths/Weaknesses: None ,, Farsensing Remote Survey (L3): ●●● Extras: None Strengths/Weaknesses: None ,, Mastery of the Four Interactions Electromagnetic Mastery (L3): ● – magnetic field Extras: None Strengths/Weaknesses: None ,, Telekinetic Mastery (L3): ●● – telekinesis, telekinetic field Extras: None Strengths/Weaknesses: None ,, Creation Log Freebie Points: 12/12: 8 points gained from flaws. 11 points spent on merits; net loss of -3 bonus points. 10 points spent on willpower. 2 points spent on abilities. ,, Character Creation Nova Points: 78: 5 points spent on attributes. 6 points spent on abilities. 2 points spent on backgrounds. 3 points spent on N-stage node. 6 points spent raising temporary quantum. 2 points spent on mega-strength. 4 points spent on mega-dexterity. 8 points spent on mega-stamina. 10 points spent on mega-perception. 2 points spent on mega-wits. 2 points spent on mega-appearance. 1 point spent on armor. 2 points spent on tainted armor. 2 points spent on body modifications. 1 point spent on body morph. 2 points spent on tainted body morph. 1 point spent on flight. 1 point spent on invulnerability (being involuntarily moved). 2 points spent on invulnerability (quantum-manipulating/-draining attacks). 4 points spent on invulnerability (cold). 4 points spent on invulnerability (kinetic). 4 points spent on quantum bolt. 2 points spent on remote survey. 2 points spent on telekinetic mastery. 'Experience Log 2013' In-Play Nova Points: 22: 3 points spent on improved attributes. 3 points spent on tainted quantum. 2 points spent on mega-stamina. 1 point spent on armor. 1 point spent on body modifications. 2 points spent on flight. 3 points spent on hyper-movement (flight). 2 points spent on invulnerability (cold). 2 points spent on invulnerability (kinetic). 1 point spent on quantum bolt. 2 points spent on remote survey. ,, Experience Awards: Date Item Rank Gain/Spent Balance Dec 2013 XP Earned for Participation (Nov) - 25 25 Dec 2013 XP Earned for fic (Cold Jupiter) - 5 30 Dec 2013 Remote Survey 3 -10 20 Dec 2013 Mega-Intelligence 1 -3 17 Dec 2013 Enhancement: Push - -5 14 Dec 2013 M.Per Enhancement Strength 1 -2 12 Dec 2013 Electromagnetic Mastery 1 -5 7 Dec 2013 Body Morph: Extreme Density Extra - -3 4 END 'Experience Log 2014' Experience Awards: Date Item Rank Gain/Spent Balance Jan 2014 Starting Balance - - 4 Jan 2014 XP Earned for Participation (Dec) - 25 29 Jan 2014 XP Earned for fic (Ice Giants) - 5 34 Jan 2014 Armor: Super Heavy Extra - -3 31 Jan 2014 Invulnerability: Broad Category Extra - -3 28 Jan 2014 Invulnerability: Broad Category Extra - -3 25 Jan 2014 Body Mod: Hyper-Strong Skeleton 1 -3 22 Jan 2014 Body Mod: Hyper-Strong Skeleton 2 -3 19 Jan 2014 Telekinetic Mastery 2 -5 14 Jan 2014 Enhancement: Linguistic Genius - -3 11 Jan 2014 Enhancement: Pull - -3 8 Jan 2014 Body Mod: Enhanced Vocal Chords 1 -2 6 Jan 2014 Mega-Dexterity 3 -6 0 END ,, Custom Power Listings: Remote Surveying Level: 3 Quantum Minimum: 5 Dice Pool: Perception + Remote Survey Range: Line of sight or Special Area: Special, see Description Duration: Concentration Effect: Allows the character to detect objects or regions remotely, learn general information about those locations, and determine the most efficient path to them. Multiple Actions: Yes Description: Remote Surveying is a versatile power that grants a nova multiple related abilities for use in detecting and surveying the surrounding environment. Combined, these abilities allow a nova to detect and analyze large objects at range, as well as to plot courses through, between, or to these objects. The nova accomplishes this by using this power to directly sense an object via all four of the fundamental quantum forces (gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces) without the use of their normal senses, however the power is primarily reliant on gravity for initial detection, making it extremely difficult to accurately “see” anything that isn’t massive enough to produce a sizeable gravity field. As such, this power is not meant for detecting or analyzing things on a personal scale and only really becomes useful when applied to objects or areas on a geological or astronomical scale. ,, Similar to the Telepathy power, Remote Surveying allows a nova to accomplish three distinct but related things, which in this case are: detecting objects of various (but usually very large) sizes at range without resorting to normal human senses, analyzing or “surveying” those objects once detected, and reliably plotting an efficient course between two points that will be free from obstructions or collisions. Each use of the power requires the nova to pay the required quantum points and to roll Perception + Remote Survey to determine their degree of success; if they are searching for an object at range or attempting to map a course between two points, they may also add a number of automatic successes to that roll equal to their Quantum rating. ,, Detection Detection: To detect an object at range, the nova rolls against a variable difficulty based on the distance between the nova and the object being searched for, and the size of the object itself. Refer to the Scanning Range and Object Size charts to determine the base number of successes needed to sense out to a given range and any applicable difficulty modifiers based on the size of the object in question. Remember that the nova can add a number of automatic successes to their Detection roll equal to their Quantum rating. ,, If the character already has a rough idea of the general direction of or distance to the object they’re searching for then finding it will obviously be easier than finding something they’re not even sure is there. In this case, they may reduce the difficulty by an additional -1. If they know the general (or precise) location of the object they’re searching for, reduce the difficulty by -2. If the character can directly sense the object in question using one of their other senses (whether that means they can see the object through a telescope or actually reach out and touch it), they still must roll to detect it with Remote Survey, but may reduce their difficulty by -3. If the nova can only describe their intended target generically (“the nearest gas giant”), the difficulty on the roll increases by one or more (Storyteller’s discretion). Once an object has been found, the nova may attempt to use the Survey aspect of this power on it normally. ,, Searching for something using this aspect of Remote Survey requires a base amount of time equal to one hour. Any extra successes on the Remote Survey roll beyond the base amount required for detection reduces this timeframe, as noted on the Search Times & Reductions chart. Surveying Surveying: Using this aspect of the power, the character can attempt to study an area in detail. In order to use this aspect of the power at all, however, the nova must first locate an object using the Detection aspect of Remote Survey. While a direct line of sight or being able to touch the object in question certainly makes detecting it with Remote Survey easier, the nova must actually succeed at her detection roll before she can begin analyzing it. In any event, Surveying an object always counts as a distinct use of the power, requiring the nova to pay the Quantum cost and to roll (Perception + Power Rating), with successes earned determining the results. Unlike when using the Detection or Mapping portions of Remote Survey, the nova does not gain any automatic successes from their Quantum Rating when surveying an area. The nova can analyze an area equal to ([Quantum + Power Rating] x 5km) in radius at one time; this area can be moved around, but this requires a new activation and roll of the power each time this is done. ,, Each success on the Perception + Remote Survey roll allows a nova to determine one fact about the area they are surveying. So, with five successes on their roll, they could find out as many as five separate facts about the object of their survey. More detailed or precise facts are more difficult to find out, however, as noted on the Site Survey Benchmarks table, and may require as many as 5 successes to learn. For example, determining whether the area being surveyed has an atmosphere at all and, if it does, how dense it is on average requires only one success, but determining the local temperature in that same area takes a full five successes. Surveying an area requires 10 minutes of unbroken concentration by default, but the character may apply extra successes to reduce this timeframe as noted on the Search Times & Reductions chart, if they so desire. ,, Remote Survey can be used to sense for just about any physical property the character desires, but the information gathered is neither intuitive nor specific. So the character might be able to determine the general composition of an atmosphere in the surveyed area, along with the general proportions of its various chemical constituents, but they wouldn’t be able to determine the precise percentages of those chemical components. They might also be able to determine that there is indeed biological life present in an area and roughly how numerous or dense it is, but not the exact number of life-forms or whether that life is sentient or not. Moreover, the data gathered by Remote Survey is very “raw” data and is in no way “intuitive”, meaning that the nova who used this power to determine whether an area had an atmosphere and to detect its makeup and density – including whether or not it contained oxygen – will still not gain any intuitive knowledge as to whether or not what she’s sensing constitutes an atmosphere that would actually be hospitable, or even breathable. To determine that, she will need to apply actual hard scientific knowledge (assuming she has any) to the data gathered. Mapping Mapping: Finally, a nova can use Remote Survey to map out a route through an area. This is the easiest application of the power; simply cross-reference the distance between the nova and her desired destination with the Scanning Range chart to determine the successes needed to successfully map a route. Any additional successes gained can be divided between reducing the time required for Mapping (the time required starts at 30 minutes), refining the quality of the course mapped (resulting in shorter and/or safer travel times), and learning more detailed information about any significant factors along the route (such as size, distance and heading of celestial bodies; use the Site Survey chart for successes needed). The nova does need to have some idea of where she intends to travel, though even something as basic as “that-a-way” is sufficient for basic course mapping. ,, Once a course has been mapped, the nova can maintain this portion of the power automatically, only needing to pay the activation cost again at the turn of a scene or if they wish to use Remote Survey’s other applications. During this time the character can roll Perception + Remote Survey as an automatic action to detect any imminent collisions. (This only applies for detecting objects that present possible collision hazards to the traveling nova or others in their party.) Detection difficulties are as normal, though any objects moving erratically (e.g. piloted craft or the like) require 2 extra successes to detect over the base. ,, Charts & Tables: Object Size Difficulty Modifiers OBJECT SIZE DIFFICULTY MODIFIERS Object Size Difficulty Modifier Supermassive Black Hole -5diff Red Giant Star(>10,000,000km diameter) -4diff Average Star (100,000km-10,000,000km) -3diff Gas Giant (20,000-100,000km diameter) -2diff Terrestrial Planet (4000-20,000km diameter) -1diff Moon (2000-4000+km diameter) +0diff Small Moon (1000-2000km diameter) +1diff Large Asteroid (500-1000km diameter) +2diff Medium Asteroid (1-500km diameter) +3diff Small Asteroid/Mountain (300-1000m diameter) +4diff Small Mountain (50-300m diameter/height/length) +5diff Large Ship/Habitat (25-50m) additional +1diff per -5m below 50 Smaller Than That (<25m) additional +1diff per -1m below 25 Scanning Ranges, Search Times and Reductions Charts SCANNING RANGE CHART --------TIME & REDUCTIONS CHART--------- Successes Distance | Search Times Successes Required | 1 2km | 1 hour +0 | 2 20km | 30 minutes +1 | 3 200km | 10 minutes +2 | 4 2000km | 5 minutes +3 | 5 20,000km | 1 minute +4 | 6 200,000km | 30 seconds +5 | 7 2,000,000km | 1 turn +6 | 8 20,000,000km (0.134 au) ---------------------------------------- 9 200,000,000km (1.337 au) 10 2,000,000,000km (13.37 au) 11 20,000,000,000km (133.7 au) 12 200,000,000,000km (1,337 au) 13 2,000,000,000,000km (13,369.18 au) 14 20,000,000,000,000km (133,691.74 au/2.11ly) 15 200,000,000,000,000km (1,336,917.4 au/21.14ly) Site Survey Difficulty Benchmarks Site Survey Difficulty Benchmarks: 1 success: Type of body detected (black hole vs. star vs. planet, etc.), gross conditions in detected area (lack or presence of atmosphere and its average density, lack or presence of liquid and its general type, local gravity, spectral type and rough luminosity of a star, etc.) 3 successes: Details of body detected (bearing and speed of orbit, speed of rotation, etc.), general conditions in detected area (lack or presence of life and its gross type (flora vs. fauna, for example), general composition of atmosphere, or of oceans or other large bodies of liquid, general weather conditions (if any), lack or presence of stellar “weather” like solar flares, and so on) 5 successes: Detailed information in detected area (local temperature, mineral content, terrain type, local radiation levels, density and (general) type of life present (warm blooded vs. cold blooded, for example))
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